NEW DELHI: Incidents of violence, resignations from elected Telangana leaders, and dire threats to the Central government to immediately begin the creation of the new state took centrestage on Thursday in response to the Centre’s statement on Wednesday mooting “wide-ranging consultations” before proceeding on the Telangana commitment.
This forced the Centre to seriously mull a second states reorganization commission but TRS’ K Chandrasekhara Rao was quick to shoot down the proposal. Congress’ Telangana MPs demanded a time-frame for the creation of the new state.
Mr Rao made an impassioned speech to the Joint Action Committee formed by Telangana leaders from his party, the Congress, TDP and PRP, warning the Centre that dithering on its Telangana promise would spark a fire "which even the military will not be able to control". He spoke of Telangana as having a “history of sacrifices” and said “the people...would not be afraid of laying down their lives".
Backing up his words, the leader sent in his resignation as MP along with another TRS MP, while 11 Congress MPs and two from TDP also sent in their resignations. Though TRS and TDP leaders sent in their resignation to the Speakers of the Lok Sabha and state assembly, Congress MPs and several Congress MLAs faxed their resignations to party chief Sonia Gandhi. A total of 82 out of the Telangana 119 MLAs sent in their resignations to the Speaker or Ms Gandhi, as the case may be.
The violence in the protest against the Centre’s move to put the Telangana decision on hold began on Wednesday night itself near the Osmania University Campus in Hyderabad. By Thursday, it swelled further on the first day of the bandh called by the TRS. The shutdown has been called off on Christmas day but is unlikely to put an end to the on-going protests. TDP MLAs Nagam Janardhana Reddy and E Dayakar Rao who went to express solidarity with the Telangana cause were attacked on the Osmania University Campus and students damaged and upturned their vehicles.
Violent protests were also reported from other regions of Telangana with state transport and private buses being burnt, government offices being set on fire and protesters blocking rail and vehicular traffic.
Mr Rao’s appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms Gandhi was backed by Congress’ own Telangana MLAs. “There is some confusion after the Centre’s statement on Wednesday night. There is no retraction on the formation of the state but there is nothing to suggest that it will take any further steps either. We just want to the Centre to spell out the time-frame for the new state. We are not against consultations,” Mr Ponnam Prabhakar, who was among the 11 MPs who faxed their resignations to Ms Gandhi said. The Congress leaders have sought time to meet Ms Gandhi but were unsuccessful and instead met her political secretary Ahmed Patel on Thursday. Nizamabad MP Madhu Yaskhi Goud said that Mr Patel had promised them that the Congress would not go back on its Telangana promise.
Thirteen state ministers of the Congress, who hail from Telangana also wanted to quit but were stopped by chief minister K Rosaiah who made a strong appeal for clam and peace in the state on Thursday morning as the agitation appeared to be getting out of hand.